Bristol City Council Backs Community Energy Projects

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The Bristol Community Energy Fund is offering grants to projects that focus on energy in local communities. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to projects that positively develop the way energy is generated in communities, as well as how it powers them. The council’s Bristol Community Energy Fund will support projects that provide solutions to energy challenges faced by communities.

Through the fund, Bristol City Council is aiming to reach and engage with communities which have traditionally been less involved in the energy movement. The funding is not just for community energy groups but openly encourages community groups and organisations with charitable aims to apply in order to broaden the reach of valuable energy awareness and renewable technologies to the whole city. Funded projects should support these groups and local residents to:

  • Reduce energy use
  • Move towards cleaner and renewable sources of energy
  • Take measures that can help meet their energy needs affordably.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m fully behind making Bristol carbon neutral by 2050 and addressing inequalities in the city.  For this, we need get the whole city involved. The groups least engaged with energy issues have tended to be those most prone to fuel poverty, least likely to access information that might encourage them to undertake energy efficiency measures or to benefit from generating their own energy.

“By supporting projects that help address the specific needs of communities, we can begin to bridge that gap, helping residents to gain from a more sustainable relationship with energy and the local environment.” 

Of the 32 submissions made under the first round of funding earlier this year, twelve projects were successful and received a total of over £53,000.  Local charity, Bristol Playbus, was one of them and will use their grant to add solar panels to their Sensory Truck, a mobile sensory environment for children with a disability or life-limiting illness. The solar panels mean that the equipment on the truck can work without the use of diesel generators.

Katie Hanchard-Goodwin, Project Coordinator at Bristol Playbus, said: “Here at Bristol Playbus, our goal is to ensure that geographical isolation and/or lack of specialist transportation is never an obstacle to a disabled child or young person’s ability to access the cutting edge specialist learning equipment they need to thrive. Our Sensory Truck allows us to bring sensory play facilities to the – often literal – doorsteps of these communities. The amazing support from the Bristol Community Energy Fund ensures that we continue to reach more and more of these kids all the time.”

Hillcrest Primary school also received a grant, which is contributing to getting children involved in using energy more efficiently.

Bridget Norman, Deputy Head of Hillcrest Primary in Brislington, said: “The grant from the Bristol Community Energy Fund has allowed us to work with the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Environmental Education project to help our Green Team, made up of 12 Year Five children, understand the importance of being more energy efficient at home, at school and in the journeys we make. Our Green Team are becoming ‘Energy Ambassadors’ and will look at ways to disseminate the information they have learnt to our school community as well as other schools who want to become more energy aware.”

The Bristol-based housing association, Ashley Housing, will use their funding to raise awareness among their tenants, helping them to become more energy efficient.

Naomi Gill from Ashley Housing, said: “Managing energy use in the home is a new concept to many of our tenants who are new to the UK and this is an opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of energy amongst the local BME community. We are planning to use the Bristol Community Energy Fund to run workshops covering a series of topics from global warming to draught proofing, with the aim of helping our tenants reduce their energy bills and share their knowledge with the wider community. The fund is enabling us to acquire the resources and staff to run the project, as well as helping us to adapt our properties to make them more energy efficient.”

Responding to feedback from groups that submitted proposals the first time around, the council has extended the application window to just over seven weeks.

There are two types of grant available to Bristol groups – the Small Grants which offer up to £2,000 and the Large Grants, which offer up to £10,000 to projects. Both grants are designed to encourage behavioural change and enable renewable or energy-efficiency projects. Applications for both grants must be submitted by 8 August 2016.

Those projects that weren’t successful the first time are also being encouraged to submit again, with Bristol City Council offering support to enhance those applications.

Community groups, individuals and businesses interested in getting involved in the local community energy scene can find more information on the fund’s website: www.bristolcommunityenergy.co.uk.